Thursday, April 24, 2014

Banish the Airbrush? Maybe Not Yet...


Everyone has an opinion on it, and today I was unexpectedly drawn into a debate over it. Perhaps surprisingly, I stand on the 'let's not banish all airbrushing' side. Here's why...

*Advertisements are, at heart, consumerist propaganda. Cute green geckos don't really help us save money on car insurance, not everyone who wears clothes made from cotton sings an indie-cute song about it and no matter how many fancy bottles of colored vodka I've tried, I've never turned into a tall, svelte French woman surrounded by handsome men in suits. (Trust me on that last one...) Advertising as we know it began long before photoshop, back in the 1920s, when pictures were added to advertisements to sell products. The pictures showed '20's era starlets smiling and wearing glamorous clothes- and who didn't want to be that girl? Deodorant and toothpaste and mouthwash, etc, flew off the shelves while everyone reached desperately for the glamorous image that accompanied it. Even without photoshop, advertisements are unrealistic representations of a split second of staged enthusiasm that rarely has anything to do with a product, and instead speaks to our self image hang-ups, if we allow it.

*High fashion is fantasy. For most of us, even those who occasionally wear designer labels, high fashion is an artistic fantasy. The pieces are untouchably expensive, they're delicate and they're few in number. The advertising campaigns that go with them are also fantasy. When we see a gorgeous mermaid holding a bottle of $85 designer perfume, we're not supposed to debate if mermaids exist. When we see Lady Gaga lounging with a purse on her arm... well, when was the last time that ANYTHING Lady Gaga did was considered anything other than fantasy? Personally, I love photoshoots. I love high drama and surrealistic images, black and white photography, intense makeup, crazy concepts, magic. I've hung many of my favorite advertisements up on my walls or pasted them into a special as inspiration over the years. They're artistic and inspirational and idea-prompting, especially for me as a writer, airbrush and all.

*We all present ourselves in the best light we can. Come on, how many of us have slapped a gauzy filter onto our photo when we're battling a particularly awful round of Acne Wars? Get your hands up, join me, because we've all done it. We learn our lighting and our angles (soft lighting and straight on or held up and pointed down, for me). We learn selfie-tactics. We apply makeup or fix our hair. None of us look that babetastic during every single second of our lives, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't have a fabulous profile picture on facebook.

*Self image issues are tearing us apart, yes. We're all obsessed with self image. We're obsessed with our weight, with being overweight or underweight, with gaining weight or losing weight, with wondering why we talk about weight, with talking about why we shouldn't talk about weight, or being afraid to admit we want to lose weight, because someone will pop up and say FAT SHAMER, YOU SHOULDN'T PROMOTE UNHEALTHY WEIGHT LOSS/EATING DISORDERS/DIETS. This won't be solved by banishing airbrushes in advertisements. Airbrush is a scapegoat. We need to take responsibility to teach our young women, our young men, our friends, our own brains, that media images are fantasy and entertainment, not reality. We need to remind ourselves every day that we have worth, whatever our body looks like. We need to be good to each other and to ourselves. We need to make positive changes if we want to. We need to support each other in those positive changes. We need to know that human beings come in all shapes and sizes and colors. We need to know that labeling someone else by their weight is only a sign of deep insecurity. We need to stop hating on fat AND thin people. We need to teach young girls why they shouldn't be cruel to each other over appearance or personality or anything. We need to remember not to be cruel to ourselves. We need to be kind to our bodies, our minds and our souls.

That's our responsibility every day.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Fashion Blogger Spotlight: Fashion Nexus

One of the coolest things about the internet is getting to connect with people you might not have gotten to otherwise. One very cool person I've connected with is Shannon, the creator of Fashion Nexus. Recently I had the honor of being the very first person to interview her.
Read on to see what we chatted about...

So, I've got you on the other side of the interview desk, as it were! Cool! How long ago did Fashion Nexus get its start, and what was the initial inspiration?

Fashion Nexus came to actualization last summer, June 1st, 2013 to be exact. The initial inspiration I guess came from a desire to write. I was taking a class last year where I was encouraged to write about fashion law topics. So I did and worked with a couple of online publications who published my work. But soon I saw I was ready to go bigger, to do more. And so I thought, why not try to work with my own blog, do my own thing and so I did! I knew it would be a great way to learn more about fashion and meet a lot of great people along the journey.  
In your time running the blog, was there any one post that stands out for you as one you’re especially proud of?

I can't think of one just because so many of my posts are special to me for one reason or another. When I write about a fashion show I feel so honored because I've been invited. When I do one of my fashion features I feel proud because I was creative with the topic. If I create a best dressed list I have such fun looking thru all of the images and really using my own voice in spite of what all of the other commentators are saying. With my fashion law category, it's great to be doing something different, to be combining my love of fashion with why I'm going to school. And then with posts for Project Runway or Under the Gunn, I enjoy writing about shows I love and being able to interact so much with other fans.
You write recaps of Project Runway, which many people love to read. Was there a favorite PR season to blog about? Any favorite PR designers?

I've watched PR for many years now so sadly I missed out on blogging in the past. And unfortunately a lot of my faves are from those missed seasons of blogging. I only began the reality world fun of blogging with season 12 forward. But I guess that was why blogging for PR All-Stars was a lot fun -- I could see some faves again and get to blog with my thoughts & opinions. My fave designers would have to be Christian Siriano, Irina Shabayeva, Kenley Collins and a few more. In fact, here is my very first piece written before Season 12 began, a top 10 list!
As a fashion and beauty blogger, do you receive a lot of cool products to try?

I've been very blessed & honored to be able to REALLY work and connect with the various designers I've covered for my blog. It's been great to have been gifted some amazing items. And even ones I am able to use on loan from time to time are still pretty awesome!

You’ve attended some great fashion shows. Which ones so far have been your favorites?

I pretty much love every fashion show I get invited to because it means a lot, it's always a good time, and I get so many unforgettable experiences in return. There have been some faves I attended, but I sadly didn't blog about. One was Monique Lhuillier for Fall 2013 and I was happy to attend, but my blog was not in formation as of yet. I also attended the Season 12 Project Runway finale, but didn't blog about at that time because I didn't want to share any spoilers! Nolcha Fashion Week at Chelsea Piers is always a blast -- so many amazingly talented emerging designers. I attended a pretty cool set-up with a show for Stephanie Burkhalter & KARO Swimwear. It stood out and was a lot of fun since it was at Ph-D lounge at the Dream Hotel Downtown. A few others to mention -- Desigual, Charlotte Ronson, Erin Fetherston, & Candela.
Many people know about my obsession with NYC. It's just the best city in America, in my humble opinion. I like to call it my future home, since I'm hoping to move there late this summer. You already live there, though. What’s your favorite thing about NYC?

I love what NYC represents for me -- a chance to live somewhere new after 25+ years in the same state. There is always new experiences to be had, new people to meet, and so much to do. It represents a new chapter in my life, actually more like several chapters! It's been such a joy to fill those pages.
Beautiful! Love it. What advice would you offer curvy fashionistas who want to look great?

I think the best advice I could offer is to embrace your body. I am not a size 2 so even I worry what a certain outfit might look like on me. But I find that when I'm not thinking about my body and just focusing on how much I love my look that I'm truly happy. There are some things you could do to achieve that mindset -- dress a little looser, not so skintight; bold prints/colors; or for dresses, ones that are not super short.
What’s the best way for people to keep up with your stylish adventures?

To keep up with my stylish adventures, you can check out 2 pages on my blog. My Fashion Diary & Fashion Week looks. On these pages, I catalog my fave looks, who I'm wearing, etc. I also share so much on Twitter so anyone who wants to stay in touch should definitely follow me -- @fashion_nexus!

My Fashion Diary

Finally, what’s your current favorite:

Lipstick -- My fave brand is Cover Girl, not sure of the shade I particularly wear all the time, the sticker fell off, but it's a nude with a pink tint. It's a great look to create a clean, fresh beauty look.

Movie -- Pitch Perfect

Thank you so much, Shannon! Can't wait to team up with you for some fashion-y adventures once I'm back in the city!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Getting #LittleBlackDressed with Ann Taylor

So... Kate Hudson has already been a long time fashion icon and hero of sorts for me. For one thing, she was one of the first celebrities I remember saying something along the lines of "You don't always have to wear makeup", back when I was an impressionable and highly self conscious teenager... plus, she just embodies a casual girliness that I've always related to.

Recently Kate designed a capsule collection of 5 LBDs for Ann Taylor. The dresses, each with a cute name, are perfect for a variety of uses including events, casually chic lunches out, and running (fashionable) errands. I fell in love with the Camera Ready dress from when it was first unveiled in advanced ads for the collection. It has strong lines, an interesting shape and cut-outs in just the right place.

As you know if you read my previous two posts, I was fortunate enough to win GoBank's Project Runway shopping trip, which took me to NYC to stay at the Ace Hotel in Midtown and spend $500 on clothes with Project Runway's lovely Dom Streater. The last day of my trip was also the day that Kate's dress collection launched.

Thanks to scheduling conflicts (plane scheduled to leave at 5pm), I knew I wouldn't be able to attend Ann Taylor's dress launch event that evening. I stopped by the 5th Avenue store in the morning, though, and the staff was kind enough to not only let me snag one of the dresses early, but act as a personal cheering squad in the dressing room when I tried it on.

Lovely Kelly from The Glamourai happened to also be at the 5th Avenue store at the same time, photographing the collection for her blog and picking up her own dress. Very cool!

Kate's LBDs all ring up at less than $200, and the fit of the dresses varies so they will flatter women of many shapes and sizes. Kudos to Kate for keeping the price range reasonable (she's quoted as saying she wanted the whole collection to be, together, less than the price of one investment dress) and for providing pretty dresses that can look great on tall, short, thin and curvy ladies.

Go get yours while you still can! And make sure to tag me in pictures when you wear it... I wanna see! :)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

My NYC Adventures with Dom Streater

GoBank was kind enough to offer a shopping trip for 2 to NYC as a contest prize, following Project Runway Season 12. I won! Seeing as I never win anything and want to move to NYC in September, AND love Project Runway, this was a perfect contest to win.

We arrived at JFK airport and were taken to our hotel in true celebrity style by way of a Boston Coach car. The Ace Hotel, situated in Midtown, was hip and fun from the very beginning, thanks to a huge lobby, music-related flourishes, a fun staff and spacious, comfortable rooms. (And the pillows? Heavenly!)

My sister Brittany was my companion on the trip. We left our bags with the hotel staff and breezed directly out into the city with Dom Streater (Project Runway S12 winner) and her lovely publicist Courtney. We visited a fancy boutique in SoHo just to look at the pretty designer clothes, and then hit up H&M for some serious (reasonably-priced) shopping. Dom and I eyeballed a crazy sparkly sequin skirt and ended up both buying one! #sequinskirtsisters forever.

That night, Dom and I hung out at our wonderful hotel with Karen Batts and Alexander Pope, talking Alexander McQueen, fashion and New York City. So much fun! 

In the morning, we journeyed into the city once again to OKTV studios so Dom could tape an interview. It was amazing, since I’m working on a book right now called Dating an Alien Pop Star, a sexy rom-com about Griffin and Dev, two aliens from a politically and environmentally troubled planet who come to our world with very little knowledge about our ways other than what they learned from a wayward E! News signal. Their mission is to pretend to be the most influential people on our planet— English pop stars, of course!—and gain the help of a powerful secret society.

Getting to attend a real TV taping and see the behind the scenes action was very cool and helpful and I found that I’d described it very accurately in Dating an Alien Pop Star! And to add to that unexpected research, the paparazzi showed up outside our hotel the next day while we were waiting for our car, and I got to see first-hand what they’re like. (They were waiting for Taylor Swift to leave our hotel).

After a yummy and impromptu lunch, Dom and Courtney and I had to say goodbye, and I headed off for a bit more shopping and a night in the city with my sister. We visited Organika, home of the most delicious gnocchi ever, and Big Gay Ice Cream, both places I’ve visited multiple times for their delicious offerings, then hit up Chelsea Market and walked part of the High Line in the dark. So beautiful! After all that, we headed back to Times Square and, finally, back to our hotel. I was happy to put on my robe and snuggle in the comfy hotel bed to watch some bad TV and get some sleep!

In the morning I visited Ann Taylor in hopes of snagging one of Kate Hudson’s LBD capsule collection dresses. Success! Everyone at the store was super nice and let me buy my dress early, even though they weren’t officially going on sale until that night. It’s such a gorgeous dress, but I’ll save news of that for another post!

All in all, it was an incredible time. Thank you so much to GoBank, to Project Runway, to Dom Streater and to the Ace Hotel for making it such a great trip. I’m including the mini documentary I filmed during the trip, so enjoy!

More about the Kate Hudson dress soon…

                                                               (Look, the paparazzi!)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

10 Lbs

they say the camera adds 10 lbs
I think it adds 10 flaws
it flattens your hair but won't flatten your belly
stretches your skin too thin
smudges your 12-hour eyeliner, waterproof mascara
adds a ring to the bags under your eyes
highlights every wrinkle
sends you in a nervous rush to the drugstore for concealer
midlife crisis, 15 years early

add 10 stories to every picture
the laughter that made your eyes water
until your makeup slid down your cheeks
the drink that sent your brain to fizzy heights
the wink your friend cast across the table at you
just before he admitted he kind of liked you
the smile that made your eyes look squinty
the sweet, cold rain that refreshed you but ruined your hair
when you kissed him the first time
your quarter-life miracle, just in time

(For more of my poetry, check out my collection: GEMINIS AND PAST LIVES)

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